Week Two: Origins of Political Anthropology and the Problem of the Stateless Society
- Seminary opposition
- Structural relativity
- Tribe (segment primary 2009 etc.)
- Lineage (maximal etc.)
- Aristocratic clan/lineage
The Political Foundations of Anthropology
Is there a non-political anthropology?
Remember its emergence in relation to colonialism and its effects
Human difference and the constitution of anthropologys object of inquiry (primitive society)
The politics of knowledge: what and why do we want to know about difference?
- Is there non-political anthro? It is a sincere question because we can say all anthro is political and considered non-political. The context
which anthro emerges as discipline. Anthro grew out of and worked alongside of making the country. The context and time period and
the types of questions by beingoverlaid, political context of the world. The world of people who were governed and governing.
- What is the most important to that is if people started on human difference, anthro is interested in what the diversity is all about. The
human differstce inrdhe world is shaped by colonialism. It had to be made in particular way. Division of the world into modern and
primitive, 1 and 3 world, etc. are relational terms, and one cant exist without the other. The countries that are poor today are
considered rich on the other side of the world.
- Anthro discovers that it should study the difference. It was very specific direction. The ways in which the size was being whipped of
resources were becoming sitesof knowledge. They were bringing the knowledge back.
- The very foundation is based on the context and constitution of object of knowledge.
- Flow of knowledge was made into places that were produced knowledge. They were sending anthro to another countries to study
them. And something was brought back knowledge. This extraction of knowledge is cultural social pattern of people that were about
to be governed. If you want to govern something you better find out what they were thinking.
- It was build upon a president. It was the legacy that anthro couldnt get away from. Even anthropologists are critical of colonial
projects. Its essence that is all good and proper in their own place, was actually part of strong political critique, and was made of power.
- If you can understand that you might just stop massacring them. The early presentation of integration was built upon political critique.
The knowledge going back to Europe was produced by another what did they do? It was impossible task and educated ripped.
- What interests would you see off reports from other countries?
o Will know evolution of a society
o Suggests something about our early development
o Fundamental form of things we grow into
o We have a lot of books of religious life
o They were about Papua new guinea.
- Why do we have law state politics religion etc. this idea provided not cuz these societies were less evolved. The reception of anthro at
this time was good and equal in their own way yes but not so much. That is political way of reading that these societies are not ok
- The other thing is that it can confirm superiority that is made up of life. This is the question he will be asking in respect to the readings
today. Did political institution not govern this society? Overhanging question what was the fascination? Thing to have in your mind
what does it like to be British in 1940s? What is fascinating about it?
Band/ Tribe/Chiefdom/ State
Centralized/ Uncentralized Systems
Two key points:
Linkages between political and non-political
The particular link between political centralization and social hierarchy/ division (inequality)
So the question: how stateless societies maintain order.
- Early political anthro was concerned with the beast of its time. Knowing and thinking about the world. One of the ways = types of acts,
basket leaving, kinship, political systems that may be found in society in the world. The most important and enduring of this is that
there are 4 types of poli systems in the world
o Band, tribe, chiefdom, state
o First 2 are uncentralized and last 2 are centralized
o Point: in all these cases, however they are defined, which appear as non-political things carries political function. There is
linkage btwn political system btwn state and tribe and other things that happen in that society.
Important what counts as political is linked to 2 things that are strictly political. It is most associated with hunter
and gatherer in band. Bilateral kinship.
Bad part of it is that it is the rigid definition of a society. Then what if 1 thing is off? Is it not band anymore? Is it still?
- The link btwn social hierarchy of any kind and political centralization societies that are marked are very different and uncentralized
- In the society that is not centralized, there is no other type of social division
- There is no other ranking going on. This is an important point. Prof controls knowledge of some kind, some people govern etc. how do
these people get food? He has to get it from someone else and produce to survive. Prof doesnt do real work. He has to extract work from farmers. Extraction of domain of economy means that someone has to do work n some dont. mechanism of surplus enforcing
them. So that is a really important point. What is the ideology that allows for all us not spend half of our day growing food? This link
btwn social hierarchy and centralizing of political control are linked. This is the basis of political anthro
- There is big difference btwn lack of state. Is it really lacking? Is that missing element of state actually some kinda choice?
E. E. Evans- Pritchard (1902-1973)
Oxford/ LSE trained
Influence of Radcliffe-Brown
First work among the Azande
Interrupted to study Nuer
1930, 1931, 1936
Returns to lead guerrilla fight against Italians
Gets formal British position in colonial admin
Teaches at Oxford
The Nuer of the Southern Sudan
Conditions of this research
Under the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899-1956)
Study commissioned by the Anlgo-Egyptian government to study the Nuer
Colonial Context: Indirect rule
So: Why would the Nuer pose a special sort of problem for this sort of colonial project?
Their ordered anarchy?
And why would a study of this sort be something the colonial govt might be interested in?
- Nuer of the Southern Sudan
- There were particular conditions occurred under Anglo-Egyptian condominium- power sharing btwn Egypt and England overSudan. It
was under colonial occupation. In fact, the reason why he did that was cuz the A-E government asked him to do study in Sudan, the
nuer, on their behalf. He is a bitambivalent but went along with it.
- British was ruling indirectly Africa.
- Indirect rule take control of government to take the government control people, rather than sending colonial official, on behalf of
- Why would nuer pose a problem on colonialism? They didnt really have a leader so they didnt know what it was like to be ruled. there
was a headless society and wont go into administrative force. It is not a typical society. There is no chief to bribe or whatever. So they
wanted to know to know what to do
- It was known that Nuer were known for their violence. It washard to know how much to take that literally. The broad region was being
recently brought under the colonialism
- The politics and knowledge are directly related
So how is order maintained in headless society
- How is something like order maintained among nuer
- The many mechanism through which order is maintained. Lets look at this.
So key questions for reading this:
How is order maintained or how does politics work among the Nuer, a stateless society?
What are the key principles of Nuer social organization and political identity and how do they work?
What sort of background should we know about where and how the Nuer live and subsist?
Key questions for reading this
- There are 2 seasons dry and wet. There is semi-nomadic that goes btwn the wet season (disperse in smaller camps) and dry they
come back together to the water in bigger village)
- Egalitarian society - There is no social ranking, hierarchy, of any kind
The Tribe and its segments - It is broken in to smaller communities
- Tribe itself has certain things about it. It was watering, spots, cattle, and it has a name. Each smaller segments poses small things of its
own. None of these things are absolute. If you ask anyone living in Ireland, what political unit do you belong to, in relation to who?
- If you are actually out in BC, u can say you are from Ontario. What unit you identify yourself with is relative to t